Sometimes, severe asthma can be difficult to control with conventional treatments.
Asthma patients are considered refractory when they experience persistent symptoms, frequent asthma attacks or low lung function despite taking asthma medications. Some refractory asthma patients have to take oral steroids such as prednisone to manage their asthma. While patients with refractory asthma make up only a small number of asthmatics, their condition can require frequent healthcare visits and significant medical costs, reducing their quality of life.
Why choose the Refractory Asthma program at Ohio State?
Ohio State is experienced in the management of poorly controlled asthma. We develop individualized treatment plans for each patient that follow the latest evidence-based guidelines. Our goal is to treat refractory asthma patients with the least amount of medication necessary to effectively manage their symptoms and help minimize the effect of the disease on their lives.
We work with other medical specialties to diagnose and manage other health issues that are known to complicate refractory asthma control, such as allergies, sleep apnea, acid reflux and vocal cord problems. We provide comprehensive education for refractory asthma patients and help them develop the ability to identify and treat attacks early. This helps to reduce the need for emergency room visits or hospitalizations. We are accessible to physicians and patients for ongoing monitoring and management.
We begin by taking a comprehensive health history of the patient and perform diagnostic tests to evaluate the respiratory system, including:
- A complete evaluation of lung function
- An evaluation of other conditions known to cause cough, shortness of breath (dyspnea) and wheezing. We also look for other conditions that can jeopardize asthma control, such as allergies, sleep apnea, acid reflux, vocal cord problems, cystic fibrosis and cardiac disorders.
- Identification and treatment of any conditions that result from the need for long-term use of high-dose or strong asthma medications such as prednisone.
We take a holistic approach to our individualized treatment plans that combine education, nutritional guidance and medical therapy. We also help patients manage asthma symptoms provoked by exercise. Exercise is extremely important as it helps to control weight, reduce stress and increase fitness, all of which are beneficial in helping to control asthma. Many asthmatics struggle with asthma symptoms during exercise, but these can be treated to allow for regular exercise.
Follow-up visits are scheduled every four to six weeks until symptoms are stabilized, then three to four months for ongoing monitoring and management.
Your asthma action plan will be reviewed and revised if needed at these future visits. Concerns regarding asthma management will be addressed and additional education will be provided. All test results, progress notes, asthma action plans and education provided will be sent to your primary care physician.